Vancouver moves forward with Grandview-Woodland citizens’ assembly

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      The City of Vancouver is moving toward establishing a citizens’ assembly as part of the Grandview-Woodland planning process.

      Although it’s still unclear exactly what it will look like, assistant director of planning Matt Shillito told the Straight that input collected at two workshops will help shape the terms of reference for the new tactic.

      “This is a new tool in the city’s public-engagement toolbox, and we’re taking the time to make sure that we understand it, that we get it right, and that we make sure that it’s appropriately tailored to the particular task at hand here, which is the Grandview-Woodland community plan,” Shillito said in a phone interview.

      He noted that though similar initiatives have been used elsewhere, such as the B.C. citizens’ assembly on electoral reform, staff haven’t found any examples of the model being used as part of a community-planning process.

      Council voted in September 2013 to establish the citizens’ assembly and extend the planning process for Grandview-Woodland by at least 12 months.

      “The idea is that it would come up with recommendations and that they would be fed into the planning process, and to have an opportunity to influence the final plan that’s brought forward to council, so that’s a really important principle in any outcome of this, that it’s taken seriously and fed into the planning process as the final draft is prepared,” Shillito explained.

      Jak King, the president of the Grandview-Woodland Area Council and a member of an ad hoc committee formed in the community to discuss the citizens’ assembly, said he was encouraged by the turnout of about 70 people at the first city workshop held on the issue on January 25. But he’s concerned that staff will recommend a smaller-scale assembly than residents are advocating for.

      “I’m feeling not optimistic because of the way it was clearly being steered,” he told the Straight by phone. “I suspect that they’ll come out with some small number and a less broad scope than people will want.”

      King said that among the participants at the workshop he attended, there seemed to be no dispute that the assembly should be “very broad-scale” in its mandate.

      “Not just look at the broad sweep of neighbourhood issues but really get down into the nitty-gritty of how the rest of the process works,” he stated.

      The neighbourhood plan for Grandview-Woodland is expected to be completed in 2015.




      Jan 29, 2014 at 12:52pm

      Vision know they will suffer during the next civic election if their planned gift to developers, aka "densification," gets much attention in the media. Bike lanes and cycling propaganda in general has done a great job distracting the electorate the last few years, with the media eagerly spreading the smoke. Unfortunately for Vision their neighbourhood plans hit a snag when residents refused to simply accept growth for the sake of Vision's donors. The process of "consulting" residents under Vision has been a sham, with the party & council kowtowing to the desires of their donors. The outrage of residents in the West End, Grandview-Woodland and Marpole has forced Vision to backtrack and promise more "consultation" to assuage the people of those neighbourhoods. The decision to "extend the planning process" means the decision will be made after the election and 3 years before residents can make their feelings known at the polls.

      The closure of Point Grey Road was done so that street would no longer be subject to the densification plans put forward by Vision. Before the closure of the road to through traffic it was identified on the map provided by
      Vision showing their plans for lining the pockets of friendly developers. Naturally the mayor, prince lulu and other 1% donors to Vision who happen to live along that stretch of waterfront were nervous about the prospect of buildings up to 3.5 storeys as their neighbours without any public consultation. The Mayor let the bureaucrats know and they came up with the "bike safety" rationale for a gift to some of the 1%.

      Vision are treading very carefully at the moment, counting the months until the next election. The issues that are vital to the residents of this city are being decided behind closed doors in meetings between Vision and their donors. Developers know what is coming and are planning accordingly: buildings of 6 stories within 500 meters of a designated shopping area and buildings of 3.5 stories within 300 meters of main streets. They know that some areas they will be allowed to build 20 storeys or more, such as along the Cambie corridor near Canada Line stations. Say goodbye to the greenspace within 500 meters of Cambie that is currently part of Langara Golf Course: Vision will drop that on us in about a year and claim they have to sell of raise taxes.


      Jan 29, 2014 at 4:03pm

      The citizen's assembly will be another pack of unelected Vision appointees who will rubber stamp Vision's development plans so they can claim neighbourhood support. Don't fall for it. Vision are a development greenwashing machine who operate under a bubble of progressive sounding spin. They are not progressive, not green and not good for anyone but developers and condo marketers.

      Alan Layton

      Jan 29, 2014 at 4:29pm

      I'm wondering what the catch is. Make no mistake, there will be densification and it will be around main thoroughfares and along transit lines. Densification has been around for much longer than Vision. Just look at the West End in the 60's. The only thing that is going to change (out of necessity) is the speed of the process and the form the (minor) compromises will take. It's not going to stop, unless you can figure out a way to make this a less desirable place and prevent people from moving here.